Front Street smiles as Minors makes history
Front Street erupted in jubilation last night after Dage Minors ran his way into the history books. The 22-year-old became the first Bermudian to win the KPMG Front Street Mile elite men's race after beating the rest of the field comfortably.
The Franklin Pearce University graduate, making his first appearance in the Front Street Mile in five years, hit the tape in 4min 33sec to send spectators lining both sides of the course into raptures.
“I wish every kid that's from Bermuda can feel that,” Minors said, alluding to the ovation he received from the home crowd.
“When I crossed that finish line I was like ‘finally, I did it!'
“I don't know if I will ever get that again. But right now I am just going to soak it in and appreciate it.”
Minors ran a tactical race, tucking in behind the leaders before breaking away 300 yards from the finish line and showing the chasing pack a clean set of heels the rest of the way.
“My coach told me don't take the lead until you know you are going to win, and so I was just hanging in the back and then bang,” he said.
“It wasn't a fast time. It was a tactical race and in those races you can't really dictate nothing about that.”
Minors went into the race with confidence having recently ran a 4:06 competing indoors.
“I had a few good weeks leading up to this and so I thought even if the pace goes out hard I know I can hang and if it goes out slow I know I can unleash a kick,” he said.
An emotional Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association president, struggled to hold back tears of joy.
“To see a Bermudian win an elite race is wonderful and I know the work that Dage has put in,” she said. “Dage has put in a lot of work to get to where he is today — consistency and commitment — and I am very proud to see that.”
Mike Watson, a three-times winner of the DJ Williams Bermuda Mile Invitational, a precursor to the Elite Mile, was not overly surprised by his cousin's historical feat.
“I'm elated for Dage but wasn't surprised,” Watson said. “I was looking at the times he was running and knew the speed and big kick was there and figured if it came down to a kicking event, he would prevail — and that's exactly what happened.”
Minors, who holds the mile record of 5:01.90 in the boys middle schools event, is also the first Bermudian to stand on the podium in the elite men's race.
“We should be very proud of Dage because he has gone down into the record books as the first Bermudian to win down here at Front Street,” Watson said.
“It's always nice to be recognised as the first and you can't take that away from him.”
Jordan Donnelly, of Britain, crossed in second in 4:34.16 and Ethiopia's Girma Bekele third in 4:36.93.
The women's elite mile event also had a first-time winner crowned after Angel Piccirillo, of the United States, pipped compatriot Dana Mecke in a sprint finish to the line.
Piccirillo hit the tape in 4:52.26, followed by Mecke in 4:52.27 and Kathryn Lazarchick third in 4:54.24 to give the Americans a clean sweep of the podium.
“It was a good race and I was glad to squeeze by,” Piccirillo said.
“There was only four of us in the race and so there wasn't all that much strategy; it was just going to be stay composed and relaxed and then really work on the last half of the race going downhill.
“Dana has been here before so she knows the course and it was a downhill finish so I figured everyone is going to be opening up.
“Road miles can go any which way and so I was just trying to hold up and keep competing as hard as I can with the wind.”
Experience conquered youth in the adult local mile as Evan Naude blitzed the rest of the field to hit the tape first and also claim a maiden masters title comfortably.
Evans won in 4:47.16, more than two seconds ahead of open class winner Stephen Allen, who crossed in 4:49.00. Coyatito Smith, last year's winner, was third overall across the line in 5:00.11.
“I thought it would be fun to give the younger guys a good go and make it competitive and it worked out really well,” Naude said.
A new champion was crowned in the adult local women's mile as Gayle Lindsay pipped Jennifer Alen, last year's winner, in a sprint finish to claim a maiden title.
Lindsay won in 5:31.39, with Alen crossing in 5:32.32 and Christine Dailey third in 5:40.13.
“It came down to a sprint and I wasn't giving up,” she said.
“My plan was to stay as close to Jennifer as possible because she is really strong and I guess in that sense my plan worked.”